How (not) to Upholster a Pink Velvet Wing Back Armchair

You have probably seen my bedroom makeover post, in which I promised I would share with you how I re-upholstered the pink velvet armchair, so here goes. I was putting this chair project off for ages, until it was the last project on my to-do list. I was dreading it and for a good reason as I have never done an upholstery challenge this big. Let’s just say I am in no rush to do another one. Although I know the next chair I will at least have a bit more clue on what to do.. So here is what I learnt along the way..

I will try to explain the best I can, so that you don’t make the same mistakes! As always I am so eager to do something I don’t stop and plan it properly and end up improvising quite a lot.

As you are removing the old fabric, don’t throw it out. Instead label it and make a note for yourself on how this piece was attached. Number it so you know in which order it came off.  REMEMBER: When you will be putting the fabric back on you will have to work backwards (e.g. first thing you removed should be last to go back on).  I was too keen and of course ignored my list and had to ‘botch‘ a few bits! I will remember for my next chair to follow my own advice!

Once you have removed and listed all your fabric pieces, consider the foam and batting. I usually remove the old foam, but if you have had the chair for years and foam is in tact keep the old foam. My chair was salvaged so I did not particularly want to have tatty foam on my new chair, so got brand new foam from ebay.  Again use the old foam as your pattern and trace the old shape to replicate it.

I then made the piping, it is very easy to do, cut a strip of fabric approximately 5cm wide and calculate how much you may need for the whole chair.  Insert the piping cord in the middle of the fabric and fold over, then sew along as close to the piping to make sure it is nice and tight. If you run out of fabric, simply follow these steps to add more fabric for a nice and neat finish.

If you run out of fabric, this is how you sew fabric strips together to create continuous piping in one long strip.

This is where, my photos are getting less frequent as (1) I kept injuring myself , (2) getting impatient and (3) concentrating on what I was doing.

I ignored my list and started with the arms, I replicated the old pieces and sew them together. Sewing piping on a curve was a little tricky, but I placed my fabric and the piping and tried to use the curve of the arm as a guide.

The bottom piece was meant to be one of the last ones to be put on, so go in the order you wrote down. I didn’t and ended up with a couple loose ends.

To create a nice even line, staple your fabric, then along the line use cardboard and staple it in place, then fold the fabric over to create a nice neat line.

This was the first time I was using the metal upholstery tack strip (or teeth as I was calling them).  Absolutely brilliant things to use and they create a beautiful finish. Now I did take a couple of attempts to use, I won’t explain in great detail. I suggest you watch a tutorial on youtube as I think it shows in great detail how to use them, but in a few words:-

  1. measure how much you will need and snap it off
  2. staple the strip in place (the holes should be closer to the edge and not the teeth)
  3. once in place using a mallet push the teeth down a little
  4. start from the top and work your way down
  5. tuck the fabric from the top and not the bottom, cutting off the excess
  6. use your fingers to push the teeth down; and
  7. once happy, use a mallet to secure them in place.
  8. take care as teeth are sharp – they may rip the fabric if stretched too tight and you may injure yourself, use a screwdriver to open them if you have made a mistake and not your fingers!!

Attach the back piece by stapling the top part (use the cardboard trick for a nice neat line) and sew it  on to the sides.

Attach the legs and voila!

You can find the supplies I used (or similar) below: (contains some affiliate links, if you purchase anything I may receive a few pennies for it (you won’t be charged any extra) but this helps my blog going):-

UK links: Fabric – Ashley Wilde Group Velvet, Metal Tacking strip, Rubber Mallet, Gutterman thread, strong sewing thread, electric staple gun, piping cord, seating foam, Upholstery foam for the backing, sewing machine, tailoring scissors. 

USA links:  Fabric – Ashley Wilde Group Velvet, Metal Tacking strip, Rubber Mallet, Cotton thread, Upholstery thread, electric staple gun, piping cord,  seating foamupholstery foam for backingsewing machine,

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